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Región Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe

From the 4th to the 6th of February, the CND community of Guancasco in Santa Bárbara, Cristina Castellanos Berbena, Cruz Idalia Nieto Molina, and Bertha Lilian Barrera Ramírez had an enriching Visitation experience with Sisters Pedrina Barrera and Maria Luisa Hernandez, Franciscans of the Immaculate Conception, María Isabel López Guardado, Missionary Crusader of the Church, Rosa Isela Rodríguez Hernández and Marcela Cundafé Cruz, Capuchin Tertiaries of the Holy Family, two young women who had visited San José de Oriente just after the flood emergency and a young woman from the Youth Pastoral Council.

We visited the neighbourhoods of Gracias a Dios, La Soledad, Los Anises, Río Hondo, and the villages of San José de Oriente and La Huerta (El Zapote).

We would like to share part of our experiences.


Experience in Barrio “Gracias a Dios” Santa Bárbara, Honduras

A few days ago, I went to visit an area greatly affected by hurricanes Eta and Iota. This place is called “Barrio Gracias a Dios” in Santa Bárbara. I was accompanied by Sister Lilian Ramirez and Keydi Peña, one of the young women. The place seemed lonely and unlivable. There were houses destroyed and others severely damaged. under our feet were the remains of what was once a house. We also saw some small, improvised houses. Apparently, five years ago a ground failure caused serious damages to the houses, but with hurricanes Eta and Iota the damage was even more severe.

We became aware of the desolation and poverty in which several families are living. Even though their homes were 100% damaged and the place uninhabitable, the people stayed because they have nowhere else to go. The local authorities have not given them answers to place them in a safe place, there are only unfulfilled promises that one day they will have a house somewhere else... But time goes by and nothing happens.

We met doña Martha and her family, the people who continued living in that area, the most affected. She took us on a tour of her house, or rather what used to be her house. She built a makeshift house under the rubble. She told us with tears in her eyes "Look there under the mudslide how my kitchen utensils and my bathroom were left, look what was left of the house, almost nothing. We lost everything. I have nowhere to go."

Doña Martha told us how it all happened: “Five years ago we suffered damages due to a ground failure that passes by my house. We remained here because the municipal authorities did not solve the housing problem, there was no help. The hill collapsed with hurricane Eta. That day we heard a loud sound and a tremor, suddenly the land collapsed taking everything in its path. We managed to escape, now we are here telling this tragedy.”

Just like doña Martha and her family, other families in the sector also lost their homes and their belongings, but they have continued with their lives with the humble and simple work from which they earn their income. We asked what they do to earn their living, and a lady told us: “I am a street sweeper, I clean the streets of the city. Some women make tortillas to sell, others sell in the streets.” Doña Martha's family works with reeds to make hats, baskets, and other products which they sell in downtown Santa Bárbara.

Fear and uncertainty are the daily bread of these families. They are afraid that the rain and the land fault will take away their lives and their belongings, but they also live hoping that someone will help them find a decent place to live. We offered them some food donated by different people, their faces shone with joy to know that there are people who remember them, that there is solidarity, and that they have been considered.

We also found sick people. The day we arrived, a young woman who had given birth 15 days ago was dealing with postpartum depression and had taken pills to commit suicide but failed. She had been under the effects of the medication and needed immediate medical help. We called the hospital ambulance and the municipality ambulance. When there was no answer, we dialed 911 hoping to get help, but we did not receive an answer either. So, we took her to the emergency room ourselves.

These realities were difficult and painful to see. It takes a lot of strength and courage to give words of hope and comfort. What always shocks and outrages is the obscurity and neglect in which these people find themselves, both from the population and the local authorities. They are forgotten, with the remote possibility of receiving help in their most basic needs, such as food and safe housing.

Sincerely yours: Idalia Nieto, CND


Experience in the villages “San José de Oriente and El Zapote” Santa Bárbara, Honduras

On Saturday, February 6, 2021, we visited the villages of San Jose de Oriente and La Huerta (El Zapote). At the end of last year, both villages were hit by hurricanes. We traveled for more than eight hours and were able to contemplate the harmony and beauty of nature. This makes you think about how everything can disappear at any moment. As we drove along the roads, we could see how they have been working with machines to remove rocks, earth, and trees that were blocking the way. How did the people manage to get out of the tragedy when there was no other way? The spirit is creative, and they tell us that together they removed debris to follow the road... It is incredible because, amid all the pain lived by the inhabitants of these mountains, they remained resilient. They lost all their material goods and even worse, their loved ones. Even so, the light in their eyes still shines because it was brought up in the faith. They still smile and have hope for tomorrow.

In the face of the magnitude of the destruction, we feel small and vulnerability. Hope is born when listening to the testimonies and especially when we contemplate the trusting abandonment in the hands of God. The Divine Providence was present in the generosity of those who give without expecting to receive anything in return. In the first village, San José de Oriente, they prepared lunch, doña Isabel and her family made us a delicious chicken broth. This woman lost 5 of her relatives, a traumatic experience that required a whole process of acceptance and accompaniment by the sisters who are assisting this place.

We spoke with three neighbours who are raising the foundations of their houses with the help of a foreigner. Listening to their testimony during the avalanche that swept away everything in its path, we can see that it is truly a miracle that they are alive. We shared bags of food and toiletries with those who were most affected. We walked through the village and we stopped and listened to the experiences of those we met along the way. They showed us the markings on the trees and houses that indicated how high the water had risen. This is where we had the most opportunity to interact with these simple and hard-working people. In the village of La Huerta (El Zapote) we visited the shelters, but the people were gone, they had returned to neighbours or relatives... they had to start again, life goes on. We were able to meet with the pastor and she told us where the others were and in a matter of minutes, we were surrounded by many people. Here we also distributed food and talked for a while with the people who were nearby. We continued our way and still managed to give other bags to another group of people, among them coffee pickers who ran to catch up with us, in hope of bringing something to their family's table. We could see their joy; their hands showed that they had already finished another day of coffee picking.

It was past 6:00 p.m. when we were able to contemplate the normal course of the Ulúa River from the top of the mountain. The sunset on a beautiful landscape evoking the need to breathe fresh air and contemplate the serene presence of God. We thank the Lord for this opportunity to strengthen bonds of closeness and friendship, to feel the hospitality, and to see the sincere smile that comes from sharing the same ideal “to make God be known and loved even during the hardest trials that life presents you.” This confirms once again that our people teach us a lot because they live God in everything that happens to them, they always renew and evangelize us.

Marcela Cundafé Cruz and Rosa Isela Rodríguez Hernández, Hermanas Terciarias Capuchinas de la Sagrada Familia


We contemplated the face of God

It was a very enriching experience to see people who, even with so much suffering, are striving to get through. They did not give up. Amid the poverty, they are fighting for their lives, their children, and their goods. In the smiles of children and people, we can see the face of God. They are continuing on in hope of recovering their belongings little by little while giving thanks to God because they did not lose their lives.

The religious presence was particularly important for them because they felt blessed by God. They felt that we would always keep them in our prayers.

We thank God and CONFEREH for the invitation to collaborate by giving our time to reach God's favourites. We are also grateful for the fraternal welcome given by our sisters of Notre Dame, and the personnel who collaborate with them. Their kindness, dedication, and service made us feel like family, as did the young women who were protagonists to reach these people.

We admire Lilian’s leadership, working with the social pastoral to bring hope, joy, and desire to move forward to so many people in need.

Pedrina Barrera, María Luisa Hernández, Hermanas Franciscanas de la Inmaculada Concepción


Delivering food to the victims of Santa Bárbara

On Thursday, February 4, 2021, two of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, Sister Pedrina Barrera, Maria Luisa Hernandez, and Maria Isabel of the Congregation of Crusader Missionaries of the Church on behalf of the board of CONFEREH visited this area staying three days and delivering food to the most affected villages.

Knowing the seriousness of the landslides in this department, we decided to be present as consecrated religious life of Honduras and that is how, through the sisters of Notre-Dame, we contacted them and decided to help with 60,000 lempiras. They bought what was necessary and most urgent.

At the beginning of the week, we bought everything and began making packages. That same day we delivered these packages to 66 families in the neighbourhoods of Gracias a Dios and La Soledad, near the centre of the city. Here is where the most severely affected families who lost their homes were located.

On February 5, we visited four communities: San José de Oriente, San Luis Los Planes, El Zapote, and La Huerta. On this occasion, we were accompanied by the Capuchin Tertiary Sisters.

In San José, there were approximately 30 families who lost their homes and some members of their families. They are extremely sensitive and saddened by their severe losses.

The competent authorities of the area have completely abandoned these communities. They urgently need land where they can build their houses because the place where they lived has geological faults, proven by studies carried out in the area.

The municipal authorities tell them to buy land, but this is beyond the reach of the people. They do not have economic resources as they live in extreme poverty. The politicians are taking advantage of this during this time of campaign promising them help. But they do this only to obtain their vote without fulfilling what they are promising.

María Isabel López Guardado, Hna. Misionera Cruzada de la Iglesia

Board of CONFERH


Young people at the service of the Kingdom

Well, first I want to thank you for considering me for this hard work. As a young person and part of the Youth Pastoral Council, this gave me great satisfaction. I also want to thank the Association of which our dear sisters are part, for having sent and collaborated with our brothers and sisters from Santa Barbara and for seeing their smiles when they received the help.

As Matthew 20:28 says, “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as ransom for many.”

Thank you in advance. Sincerely yours,

Keydi Peña


Magnificat!

My heart sings with gratitude for the wonders of the Lord! I am happy to have found Mrs. Maria Isabel Mendez incredibly happy and quite recovered after several therapies she had at Casa Santa Margarita. She arrived on November 25, 2020, referred by a friend of one of her sisters. She was in severe depression after having lost 7 members of her family: her husband, a daughter, a son, 2 granddaughters, the wife of a nephew, and her one-month-old baby. The day we visited her community she was our guide and at her daughter Gaby's house she was waiting for us with a delicious lunch “Caldo de gallina de casa” (homemade chicken soup). There is no doubt that the Lord works miracles and we as a community are witnesses of this.

Before receiving her in November, I remember asking Casa Santa Margarita’s team to pray because we were going to meet this lady. In situations like these, where the heart is broken, we need to feel supported by others. Today I can say that as a team we have felt the strength and energy of the Divine Ruah that has accompanied us and enlightened us from the strength of prayer... to accompany Maria Isabel Mendez and other people in similar situations.

Let us continue to remain united in prayer sending positive energies to each other.

With affection, Bertha Lilian Barrera Ramírez, CND

For more photos, click here.

 

 

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